Michael Stuart Kelly Posted December 22, 2005 Share Posted December 22, 2005 The one absolutely essential element in fictionWhen you read Ayn Rand on writing fiction - or an essay like The Goal of My Writing, you get a lot of really good advice. However, there is one essential element - one critical part - that is usually glossed over. It should be be emphasized, though. Frankly, it can't be emphasized enough.The purpose of a fiction story is not to present an ideal person. It is not to exhibit style or develop plot or any of the mechanics. All these are excellent components, but they are not the essential one. They have a frame.A good story tells of a person who wants something, can't have it and what he/she does about it.Repeat.A good story tells of a person who wants something, can't have it and what he/she does about it.(That goes for groups of people too.)If this is not the base to which all the rest is added, including the presentation of an ideal human being, then the story falls flat. And this base carries all, the ideal person and the most varied types of non-ideal people - and it carries all of them well, too. They simply have to want something and can't have it and the story flows.That's it.I believe that this point is the main one that gets missed time and time again with people who try to write Objectivist-type fiction. They don't let their characters want badly enough. Nor have that want frrustrated enough.This element is true for all forms of fiction - all - except the really bad artsy stuff. A very simple example is a common chase scene, and it works. One party wants to get away and the other wants to catch him/her/them. Obstacles arise to frustrate both sides.But just in case Objectivists have a hard time with Rand's fiction, here is how it works in The Fountainhead.Roark wants to build buildings according to his vision. A world that values mediocrity doesn't let him, time and time again. He overcomes each obstacle according to his own code of selfishness and integrity.Or how about making it even simpler? Roark wants to build. The world doesn't let him. He does it anyway.The more a strong want is presented and frustrated and solutions groped after, the more exciting the story is. This extends to all of the other characters, too.(You can think about Atlas Shrugged and Rand's other fiction works.)Without nonstop wanting and constant blocks, none of the rest would hold very much interest. Neither characterization, philosophy, heroes, villains, style, theme, events, any of it. None of the climaxes would be possible either.Making intense desire believable, obstacles great and solutions exciting is the secret to making all the rest work. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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